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New Article in European Journal of Political Research

"Why change party finance transparency? Political competition and evidence from the ‘Deviant’ case of Norway" by Valeria Tonhäuser and Torill Stavenes

Tonhäuser, Valeria and Torill Stavenes (2019): "Why change party finance transparency? Political competition and evidence from the ‘Deviant’ case of Norway", European Journal of Political Research, https://ejpr.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1475-6765.12369


This paper focuses on the development of a key type of regulation ensuring public surveillance of political finance – party finance transparency rules. It makes two contributions to the emerging theory on the evolution of political finance regulation. First, using previous research, we conceptualize the underlying causal mechanisms that explain when and why party finance transparency regulation changes. Second, we present the first detailed study of party finance transparency reforms in Norway – a deviant case for the introduction of such reforms. We find that, in the absence of major scandals, an intense political discourse on corruption and political competition are sufficient factors to launch transparency reforms. Whether reforms are enacted depends on the interaction of several factors. Parties that predominantly rely on state funding and grassroots support push for and adopt more constraining transparency regulation, while parties that are close to business oppose it. Experience of regulation in similar contexts and intense discourse on corruption – stimulated by domestic or international events – are necessary for the reform to succeed. Norwegian cooperation with the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) further demonstrates that the success of party finance transparency reforms initiated by a foreign actor is a function of the existing tradition of party regulation, the policy position of a governing party, and the international reputational costs of non‐compliance.